October 12, 2017
Borobudur Temple, still taken from 3 Ways Media, Youtube©
On the plains of Kedu in Java, sits an ancient temple, Borobudur, whose towers rise from its foggy hillside like Shangri-la; a stone kingdom that should exist only in legend. It is said that the soul of a penitent who throws sesame seeds into the temple flames – one for each transgression – may be purified.
John and Clara Molloy
Memo Paris founders and creative directors John and Clara Molloy, alongside perfumer Alienor Massenet, have taken their cues from this tradition. In 2014, they launched their new collection Graines Vagabondes , which took its unusual inspiration from seeds, Kedu puts the roasted aroma of sesame front and center – the first perfume ever to do so.
Seven Days in Tibet fashion editorial, photo by Patricia Malina, Harper's Bazaar Indonesia, May 2010©
Massenet has cleverly built Kedu on several bitter accords – grapefruit, sesame and mate – that give Kedu a multidimensional, astringent base that allows silkier, sweeter notes to gradually stand out like a bas-relief. In the first minute or two of Kedu, you would be forgiven for thinking it was all about grapefruit. And indeed, Kedu has one of the most realistic depictions of that fruit’ unique bitter-fresh, clean-edged sweetness. Spraying on Kedu is initially like cutting into the citrus: the oily, chartreuse tang of the rind, the glinting, sharp sweetness of the flesh. The grapefruit continues to juggle effervescence and bitterness for a few moments. But then, suddenly, everything stops, and Kedu goes silent for a split second, the way the air does just before a high-pitched note is sounded.
Sesame seed plant, historical illustration
An elusive, unaccustomed aroma takes over. At first, I didn’t recognize it. But then sesame, pungent, toasty, nutty – reveal itself. Its various aspects trip forward one after the next: the acrid toastiness of the heated seed, the raw bittersweetness of its paste, the lactonic nuttiness of the fresh seeds in the pod. The aroma is discomfiting and cocooning all at once, the off-center unfamiliarity of the seed in fragrance sparring with its soothing creaminess. The green, dried hay smell of mate sifts through, and the composition percolates in an interplay between astringency and an almost bready milkiness.
Romantic Collection, photo by Lara Kiosses©
A musk accord surfaces that leaves aside the usual bland, chemical soapiness I often expect from light musk. This musk is downy as ermine fur, adding a fluffy counterpoise to the more earthbound notes. It is joined by a chorus of lilting floral notes: gauzy freesia, neroli, peony, and powdery rose. Stepping away from the olfactory microscope for a moment, and breathing in Kedu in its entirety, I am struck by two things: the grapefruit has not gone away at all, but rather merged with musk and flowers; sesame, while still detectable, has harmonized with mate. It is almost as if I am smelling two superimposed fragrances that nonetheless have found synergy with each other; one tantalizingly warm and savory, the other, a zesty grapefruit floral.
Seven Days inTibet fashion editorial, photo by Patricia Malina, Harper's Bazaar Indonesia, May 2010
Kedu moves back and forth in time and place. Its blend of crop and flower notes whispers of older places, while its bright, bold citrus and unaccustomed mélange of notes hums a modern tune. Its rapport of bittersweet, airy and earthy gourmand creates an exotic elegance that is elusively different, compelling, and elegant. Wear this, and it is quite likely your sins will be forgiven.
Notes: Grapefruit, neroli, mandarin, maté absolute, freesia, rose, peony, sesame absolute, white musk, moss.
Disclaimer: Kedu provided by Europerfumes the USA Distributor on behalf of Memo Paris – many thanks. My opinions are, as always, my own.
— Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor and Art Director for this review
Memo Paris Kedu
Thanks to the generosity of Europerfumes, we have a 75 ml bottle ($275) of Kedu for 1 registered reader (register here) in the U.S. To be eligible, please leave a comment with what appeals to you about Kedu based on Lauryn’s review and if you have a favourite Memo Paris Perfume. Draw closes 10/16/2017.